2014: The Year of DCIM

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Gary Bunyan is Global DCIM Solutions Specialist at iTRACS, a CommScope Company. iTRACS is a Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM) software suite provider. This is the first in a series of columns about the business value of DCIM as an open infrastructure management platform.

Gary-Bunyan-sm2GARY BUNYAN
iTRACS

It’s that time of year again ¬– when everyone makes predictions about everything from who’s winning the tablet wars to which app will be the “next Instagram.”

So here’s my prediction:

2014 is the year of DCIM – the year that DCIM will drive increasing business value for users in one of three ways: reducing operational costs, deferring capital expenditures, and increasing business output from the IT assets on the floor of the data center.

Now let me take this prediction a step further:

2014 will be the year that DCIM solutions which are truly OPEN are the ones more widely embraced by data center owners, operators, and users. Because these are the solutions with the best chance of achieving the highest ROI.

Open is the natural evolution of DCIM. By its very nature, being open is where DCIM can deliver its highest return on investment back to the business. By “open,” I mean a DCIM platform that:

  • is purchased as a software-based suite solution (not a point product)
  • uses industry standards and communications protocols to ensure seamless interoperability and the free bi-directional exchange of information with other systems
  • offers a data exchange framework that allows for rapid, hassle-free integrations with third-party vendors both within and outside of the data center (short development cycles = rapid time-to-value at low customer cost)

I’m talking about a DCIM platform that invites, embraces, and empowers collaboration within a broad vendor ecosystem, opening doors to greater productivity and efficiency for data center owners, operators, and users. A collaborative environment that is inclusive enough to serve as a holistic “information hub” across both IT and Facilities infrastructure.

The alternative? It’s not pretty. I’m referring to proprietary and/or hardware-constrained tools that handcuff decision-makers with inherent limitations in functionality, technology dead-ends, burdensome hardware costs, unreliable access to information, fragmented visibility into operational or planning metrics, and integration roadblocks that discourage rapid collaboration (the opposite of empowering).

iTRACS-screen-shot-smClick to enlarge. NO DCIM IS AN ISLAND. A DCIM suite that’s 0pen offers deeper visibility and richer information-sharing with other systems. How else can it pull together so much data from so many disparate sources? (Image courtesy of iTRACS software.)

“Open” is where the DCIM world will continue to go.

Why do I say this?

1. No vendor is an island. Being open optimizes the ability of the DCIM vendor to collaborate with other systems and data sources to meet the customer’s needs. In this way, the vendor can provide the total “command and control” management platform that users are looking for. This holistic approach requires collaboration. It takes a web of capabilities and information-sharing to provide the holistic infrastructure management solution that today’s decision-makers demand. This is best achieved by an open software platform that utilizes industry-standard interfaces and protocols to facilitate rapid, hassle-free integrations with other systems.

2. Opportunity is knocking. An open software platform offers expanded coverage across IT and Facilities, widening the web of assets that can be monitored and managed within the DCIM platform. When it comes to gathering and analyzing operational data like power, space, cooling, etc., the more, the merrier. This interoperability can also include outside enterprise systems like finance, ERP, and other management tools. Integration with enterprise systems can enhance how assets are sourced, purchased, and financed over their entire lifecycles, improving cost efficiency over the long haul.

3. More collaboration means more insight. DCIM isn’t about data. It’s about turning that data into insight that improves decision-making. It’s about turning guesswork – what you “think” is going on in the data center – into knowledge – what you KNOW is going on.

Turning data into insight isn’t just triggering an alarm or monitoring a device. It’s about providing information on the past, present and future of the entire physical ecosystem to drive efficiency and business planning. For example, DCIM can help you manage and reduce opex not for the year but over the entire lifecycle of the data center. It can predict the future using “what if” scenarios and predictive modeling.

This means not just optimizing day-to-day operations, but using capacity planning to look ahead and optimize future utilization and capacity requirements across all four key resources – power, space, cooling, and network ports. This level of resource management requires accessing and analyzing data from multiple sources including operational, asset, power, and even financial (purchasing) systems. This is achievable today with the right DCIM software suite.

Open is the only way DCIM can go if it is to fulfill its true mission:

  • Keeping the physical layer continuously aligned to the needs of the business
  • Ensuring that the infrastructure investment delivers maximum business value to the enterprise

So. . .in 2014, you will see DCIM continue to spread its wings as an open technology.

And I believe you will see the benefits of this in three key areas:

1. Operational efficiency – reducing Opex and deferring Capex
2. Assets and connectivity – understanding the interrelationships and improving business output of IT assets
3. Holistic capacity planning around space, power, network, and cooling requirements – being able to plan for all four of these vital resources.

So do you feel it … the window of opportunity opening?

Industry Perspectives is a content channel at Data Center Knowledge highlighting thought leadership in the data center arena. See our guidelines and submission process for information on participating. View previously published Industry Perspectives in our Knowledge Library.

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